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Misunderstandings & the Ego: The Mentos & Coke of Community-Building

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Sometimes, as we focus on one aspect of growing spiritually as individuals and/or as moving our communities closer to God, we tend to forget about the others.  Someone once told me that the path to building a new civilization is littered with broken hearts.  Creating unity is a tough job, and it does come at the cost of many a broken heart.

Lately, I have had many a conversation about how to deal with an individual with whom one has had a misunderstanding when the other person refuses to acknowledge that the other’s framework for thinking is different. This problem seems to occur particularly when one individual is particularly pragmatic in their approach, while the other is emotional in theirs. In the words of another friend of mine, the “I think” people have a hard time with the “I feel” people. Interestingly enough, the conversations that bring about understanding and, consequently, unity, are those that balance both the “I think” and the “I feel”, underscoring yet again how vital moderation and balance are.

Then there is, of course, the ego. The simpler the misunderstanding, the easier it is to tame the ego, to work beyond it and, after many a prayer and many a meditation session, to rise up above it. But as misunderstandings acquire new layers of  complexity, the ego becomes stickier and stickier; it takes more and more effort to get rid of it, and that makes the situation even harder to deal with.

Kind of like when you put Mentos in a bottle of Coke and spray the entire driveway.

What are the solutions that are at hand? Well for one, avoid misunderstandings as much as possible. When they occur, start scrubbing the ego as hard and as much as possible, to avoid stickiness. And when you get to the sticky point, remember that you are there, and be kind to yourself: take the time to tackle your ego. It’s not an easy job, it will take time – but ultimately, your driveway will be cleaner!

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